This Kurdish sneakerhead turns old kicks into futuristic outfits
Berlin designer All Amin - aka @haramwithsugar - gives worn-out shoes a sustainable second life.
All Amin was supposed to be a civil engineer, but she took matters into her own hands. She started studying fashion design in a small German town called Reutlingen, before moving to Berlin a month ago to complete her education. Along the way, she came up with the idea of upcycling her old sneakers to turn them into futuristic fashion pieces and otherworldly accessories.
On Instagram All calls herself @haramwithsugar – haram meaning “forbidden” in Arabic. The 23-year-old Kurd doesn't do anything illegal, but she does do whatever she feels like, no matter what others want to tell her. "I'm often labelled as the cute girlie in fact I'm always loud and get things going. ‘Haramwithsugar’ is a self-description," she says.
What made you start deconstructing your sneakers?
Shoes were almost a holy thing for me. I used to dance ballet and wear pointe shoes. I am quite small, so it was always fun to feel taller in them. There was a time when I was wearing high heels every day, but then I started working at Footlocker and became a full-time sneakerhead. At some point, I had collected so many shoes that I realised I will never wear all of them. So I just started to cut them apart to create something new.
How big was your collection back then?
I had a whole room full of shoes. Now, I curse my former consumerism, but it opened my eyes to what kind of disposable society we live in. I was really trend obsessed and wanted to find new pieces every day. For the past three years, I’ve only bought second hand.
You ask your community for old shoes they don’t need anymore. Does that work?
Totally! Since I live in Berlin some people want to send me packages and even take care of the shipping. In my old hometown there’s this vintage shop that only sells shoes. The owner was so hyped about my stuff that he already sent me two boxes of shoes he can’t sell anymore. A few of them are real treasures underneath all the dirt!
How would you describe your designs?
Very playful and not divided into size or gender. I personally love to browse through the men's department to find oversized shirts, I don't care what society thinks. Today I’m wearing a FC Bayern neck pouch. Everyone asks if I’m a fan but to be honest I just like the colours!
Regarding the climate debate, do you think the fashion industry is changing its approach?
Many people I’m surrounded with still consume fast fashion without questioning it. Big companies want to be known for their conscious collections but secretly produce in Bangladesh. Only a small part of their old clothes are used for up-cycling, the bulk of it gets cut up and turned into face cloths and towels or gets burned straight away. To be honest, I don't see a real change yet and am rather disillusioned. I like what Extinction Rebellion is doing, they regularly paralyse Berlin traffic for their protests. They do guerrilla actions while politicians wrap themselves in silence.
Does sustainability play a role in other parts of your life, too?
It started with buying second hand three years ago. Since I tried to become a vegan. Unfortunately I have a weakness for halloumi, so it’s quite tough! I couldn't live fully vegan because I would no longer be able to wear leather shoes but I’m happy they get at least a third, maybe a fourth life through my designs.
"Sometimes you gotta mashallah yourself" is your mantra. It means something like “trust yourself, be proud of yourself.”
Self-love is the key to everything. I used to hate being alone, it almost creeped me out to deal with myself. But after a while, I started to enjoy spending time with myself. It does take some time but it’s worth it. When I look at my work now, I am incredibly proud. For the first time in my life I really love what I am doing.
This article originally appeared on i-D DE.